Can Coffee Beans Be Decaffeinated?

Can Coffee Beans Be Decaffeinated?

If you want to reduce how much caffeine you consume, you might be tempted to consider drinking decaf coffee.

Basically, decaf and caffeinated coffee are the same thing – it’s just that decaf coffee has had its caffeine removed.

How is caffeine removed from coffee beans?

To create decaf coffee beans, processes involving water, carbon dioxide, or organic solvents are required.

Let’s explore decaf coffee beans in more detail. We’ll start by looking at the process coffee undergoes in order for its caffeine to be successfully removed.

The Coffee Decaffeination Process

There are actually many different ways in which you can remove caffeine from coffee.

One of the most popular, however, is to soak the coffee beans in a solvent, such as ethyl acetate or methylene chloride. As BBC points out, methylene chloride has other uses, such as being a paint stripper. That is a tad alarming, we have to admit.

As for ethyl acetate, it’s not all rosy either: it’s been found that this solvent can produce an odor that remains in the coffee beans after they have undergone the decaffeination process. In addition, it’s also highly flammable so it’s high-maintenance to work with.

In the solvent method, the coffee beans need to be soaked in water before they enter a solution of one of the above-mentioned solvents, which draw out the caffeine from the beans.

The water is used many times for different beans so that it maintains the flavor that was originally in them. This prevents the decaffeinated beans from losing aroma and flavor. 

There are other methods that can be used to remove caffeine from coffee beans. These include the use of carbon dioxide. In this method, beans are first soaked in water and then are moved into a stainless-steel extractor that’s completely sealed.

Liquid CO2 is sprayed over the beans at pressures of up to 1,000 pounds per square inch, as BBC reports. The CO2 works to successfully decaffeinate the beans because it sticks to the caffeine molecules and this helps to release them.

Although this method works well to eliminate caffeine from the beans – it’s said to remove more caffeine than the use of solvents – it is very expensive, which makes it impractical.

What About The Swiss Water Method?

Removing caffeine from coffee beans can also be accomplished with the use of water. The Swiss Water decaffeination method is renowned for being as natural as possible because it only makes use of water to remove caffeine from the coffee beans – no chemicals!

How it works is that the coffee beans are soaked in pressurized, warm water for several hours. Then, the green coffee extract that’s been released gets directed through a charcoal filter that stops the caffeine in its tracks.

The fresh coffee beans get submerged into the extract that includes flavor compounds, acids, oils, and sugars. This is a great way of preserving the flavor in the coffee beans so that even though their caffeine content is eliminated their flavor remains rich and delicious.

What About The Mountain Water Method?

This is another decaffeination process that you might’ve heard of, especially by coffee manufacturers who want to reassure their consumers that there are no chemicals used in their decaffeination processes.

This method makes use of glacier water in Mexico and a special filter to remove caffeine from coffee beans.

The caffeine-free water solution becomes filled with coffee solubles during the process, so that the water can be reused to infuse flavor into the beans.

The Mountain Water method is used by Descamex, which is renowned as being the only company in Mexico that decaffeinates its coffee with the use of water.  

Is Decaf Coffee Completely Free Of Caffeine?

If you’ve been proud of yourself for not consuming any caffeine since you switched over to decaf coffee, we have something to tell you that you might not like: decaf coffee is not completely free of caffeine.

You can still find some caffeine in it. How much?

You’re looking at 3mg of caffeine per cup on average. This is a really small amount if you consider that the average cup of caffeinated coffee contains between 70mg and 140mg of caffeine, as Healthline reports.

In addition to the above, it’s worth noting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stated that decaffeinated coffee only needs to be 97-percent free of caffeine in order to be called decaf coffee (via Business Insider).

While you might think that 3 percent of caffeine isn’t so bad, it can be bad for people who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Why Choose Decaf Coffee?

Sure, maybe you want to stop feeling jittery from all the caffeine you consume, but that’s not the only reason why decaf coffee could be a good idea. Here are some health benefits associated with decaf coffee.

  • Decaf coffee can prevent Type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee protect against Type 2 diabetes. Research (via Healthline) has found that for every cup you consume you decrease your risk of the disease by up to seven percent.
  • Decaf coffee prevents acid reflux. Coffee that contains caffeine is usually one of the culprits for acid reflux problems, but since decaf coffee doesn’t contain as much caffeine it can help to reduce and even eliminate such health issues.
  • Decaf contains antioxidants that are in regular coffee. Although it might not contain as many antioxidants as caffeinated coffee because these can sometimes be removed during the decaffeination process, decaf coffee still contains antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. These help to prevent cell damage as well as diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
  • Decaf can be a way to enjoy coffee when you can’t drink caffeine. If you can’t handle caffeine in large amounts, such as because you have a health condition or you’re pregnant, decaf coffee can be a great way to allow yourself to enjoy the taste of coffee without the negative side effects and health risks that can come with it. 
  • Decaf coffee improves kidney function. A study that was published in the Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry journal found that caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee result in the increased activity of an enzyme known as ecto 5’-nucleotidase in the kidney cortex. This leads to an increase in the concentration of a compound known as adenosine, which has been found to improve the excretion functions of kidneys.

Does Decaf Coffee Raise Your Blood Pressure?

Does Decaf Coffee Raise Your Blood Pressure?

If you’ve ever been told by your doctor not to consume coffee before having your blood pressure tested, you might have wondered if decaf coffee can also spike your pressure.

The interesting thing about this is that it’s been said that there are compounds other than caffeine in coffee that could be responsible for boosting blood pressure – so that means decaf is also risky!

There are many substances found in coffee and although caffeine is usually regarded as being the one that makes blood pressure levels increase, studies have found that there’s more to know about this, as Harvard Health Publishing reports, mentioning that studies have shown that decaf espresso didn’t increase blood caffeine levels but it did increase participants’ average systolic blood pressure.

This blood pressure refers to the pressure your blood puts on your artery walls when your heart beats.  

Based on the above, it’s important to remember that if you have high blood pressure you should proceed with caution when switching to decaf coffee because it might not actually be better for you.

It’s advisable to check your blood pressure regularly to see if decaf coffee is having a negative effect on you. 

Other Things To Consider Before Drinking Decaf Coffee

Other Things To Consider Before Drinking Decaf Coffee

While it does have many health benefits, are there any risks you should know about consuming decaf coffee? Let’s look at the most important things to consider before you reach for a cup of it.

Potential Health Risks Of Methylene Chloride

As mentioned earlier in this article, methylene chloride is a solvent often used to decaffeinate coffee beans. But there are concerns about how safe it really is.

Research, via Medical News Daily, has found that inhaling small amounts of this solvent can slow down a person’s hand-eye coordination and lead to symptoms such as drowsiness, headaches, light-headedness, and irritability.

That said, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. has approved this solvent for use in the decaffeination process – but the coffee needs to contain 10ppm (0.001 percent) or less of methylene chloride in order for it to be safe.

How Decaf Coffee Increases Cholesterol

It might surprise you to find out that decaf coffee has been shown to increase levels of cholesterol in the body. This is as a result of how it’s made with beans that are higher in fat, as Mashed reports.

This is what increases cholesterol in the blood. That said, it’s mainly a concern for people who already have high levels of cholesterol.

How Popular Is Decaf Coffee?

How Popular Is Decaf Coffee?

Have you ever been around coffee drinkers who couldn’t imagine having to reach for a decaf coffee instead of caffeinated coffee?

They might’ve laughed or rolled their eyes at the idea, but if you’ve recently switched over to drinking decaf coffee don’t let that sway you. The truth is that many people enjoy drinking it.

How many, you ask? A 2018 report by the National Coffee Association (NCA) found that 42 percent of all consumers of coffee choose to drink decaf. Interestingly, it’s younger adults who are taking the lead on this one and showing that decaf is trendy!

In addition to them, 62 percent of coffee drinkers who drink caffeinated coffee have said that they feel it’s important to reduce one’s intake of caffeine, which means they could also be sipping on decaf coffee. 

With more and more people growing interested in decaf coffee, it’s no surprise that other research (via NCA) has found that people who like to drink decaf coffee are ready and willing to pay more money to get excellent coffee.

The question is: where can you get quality decaf coffee beans?

If that’s on your mind, then you’ll be pleased to know we’ve got you covered!

Best Roasted Decaf Coffee Beans

Best Roasted Decaf Coffee Beans

If you want the convenience of purchasing decaf coffee beans that have already been roasted, here are two of the best products to purchase.

Life Boost Organic Decaf Coffee

These coffee beans are full of flavor while being healthy, too. They’re free of chemicals and have been hand-washed and sundried during the caffeination process. They’re organically grown and free of pesticides, while also being fair trade. 

You can purchase a 12-ounce bag of medium-roast decaf coffee from Life Boost for $34.95. People have reported that the coffee tastes delicious while being gentle on their stomachs.

Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, Organic Sumatra Swiss Water Decaf Coffee

These coffee beans have an earthy, chocolatey taste you’ll love. They’re certified organic, have been water processed, and are also fair trade so you can enjoy a delicious decaf coffee without worrying about the stress that’s put on the environment. 

People who have purchased this Fresh Roasted Coffee from Amazon have reported that it tastes just as good as caffeinated coffee. A two-pound bag will cost you $31.95. 

Can You Buy Decaf Coffee Beans For Roasting?

Can You Buy Decaf Coffee Beans For Roasting?

If you love roasting your own coffee, you might wonder if you can purchase decaffeinated beans. You certainly can! Here are our top picks of some of the best-quality decaf coffee beans on the market.

  • Sweet Maria’s. This is a renowned company that sells green coffee beans that you can roast at home and it has a variety of decaf beans available for order from its website.
  • Green Beanery. Here, you can also find some decaf coffee beans to purchase. These include Colombian Supremos, which are the best-quality coffee beans you can find in Colombia. These beans are decaffeinated via a water process that’s completely free of chemicals. The beans produce rich-tasting coffee. 

Tips For Buying Decaf Coffee

Whether you want to purchase green decaffeinated beans or roasted decaf coffee beans, there are some important tips to bear in mind so that you can enjoy quality coffee.

  • A tip via The Kitchn is to consider purchasing coffee that is a blend of origins. This is said to offer benefits from each of the different beans, thus producing a smoother result. It can also help to make up for anything the beans could be lacking after going through the decaffeination process. 
  • Take time to do your homework. It’s worth comparing a few decaf coffee bean products before you purchase them, especially if you’re buying them online.
  • Experiment with different types of coffee. Unless you’re dead-set on choosing one type of bean, consider other types of decaf coffee, such as pod coffee, organic coffee, instant coffee, and different roasts, such as light, medium, or dark. This is especially important if you can’t consume caffeinated coffee as it will help you to find the best decaf coffee you can.

When you’re ready to roast your decaf coffee beans, make sure you roast them in a careful way and make the roasting process longer.

This is because decaffeinated coffee beans will be more porous and heat-sensitive than regular beans, so you want to slowly develop the roasting process.

As Perfect Daily Grind reports, roasting beans removes some flavor from them, but you want to avoid using a light roast as that will remove the flavor even more. It’s a good idea to choose a darker roast so that you can increase the decaf coffee’s sweetness and caramelization.

Related Questions

How was coffee first decaffeinated?

This happened back in the early 1900s when coffee merchant Ludwig Roselius used benzene (now a well-known carcinogen) to remove caffeine from coffee beans. Thankfully, modern processes of decaffeination are much better!

Are decaf coffee beans more expensive?

Decaf coffee beans can be a bit more costly than caffeinated beans, and this is because of the decaffeination process as well as how the beans are usually shipped to a different country where the decaffeination process occurs.

Are there coffee plants that are naturally free of caffeine?

Guess what?

There are coffee trees that grow in regions such as Madagascar and Cameroon that are naturally free of caffeine! Sadly, they are very difficult to breed and various attempts have failed over the last few decades.

Conclusion

If your body can’t handle the negative side effects of drinking caffeinated coffee, you might want to make the switch to decaffeinated coffee. But what are the benefits and potential risks involved?

In this guide to decaf coffee beans, we’ve looked at what you need to know about decaffeinated coffee, as well as where to purchase your own decaf coffee beans so you can prepare a decaf brew that tastes just as good as the caffeine-packed ones your friends love! 

Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *